Conviction, mistrial verdicts in child molestation case

Rubbing a child’s genitals is an inexplicable act and obviously motivated by sexual gratification, said Pima County Prosecutor Virginia Dawn Aspacher, during closing arguments at Superior Court on Wednesday.

It was incredibly difficult for a young child to testify against her father, Aspacher said, but she knows what happened to her, just as her sister knows what happened to them — and now so does this courtroom full of strangers.

John William Inman, 32, was charged with two counts of child molestation during a four-month period starting Nov. 1, 2015. Inman was found guilty of molesting his 7-year-old daughter on Thursday. The second allegation of sexual misconduct with Inman’s youngest daughter, who turned 3 this year, was ruled a mistrial.

He was arrested on April 14, 2016. Bail was set at $50,000 and Inman’s father posted $25,000 bond on June 9, 2016.

As the child watched TV, Inman joined her on the couch rubbing her vagina with his fingers, Aspacher said, recalling the young girl’s testimony that day. His daughter further said she saw Inman molest his 3-year-old, while saying “I love you,” according to Aspacher.

Ultimately, the jury decides the credibility of witnesses who testify, she said, but every element of this evidence has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Defense Attorney Chelsea Padilla-Frankel said Inman’s daughter had trouble remembering being fondled during her testimony, because it never happened.

The defense argued that Inman’s youngest daughters were initially asked about the alleged molestation with misleading questions, in a “yes-or-no fashion,” by his teenage daughter. And the child was simply repeating a story her sister fabricated, Padilla-Frankel said.

But Aspacher refuted the claim reminding the jury that Francisca Serrano, a bilingual forensics interviewer at Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center, said the initial interview of Inman’s youngest children was not misleading.

The defense insisted Inman’s children were asked a biased line of questioning, noting that Pima County Sheriff Deputy Jesus Rodriguez didn’t interview the pair, because he wasn’t qualified to do so.

Padilla-Frankel told the jury a day, month or year from now they should never wonder what the truth is about this case, and if they aren’t completely convinced acquittal is the only choice.

“Frankly, there is a lot of reasonable doubt in this case,” she said.

Judge Howard J. Fell told the jury this case presents a unique set of circumstances, whereas the state has not submitted any evidence. And the sole evidence is contained in the witness testimony, he said.

If the jurors had any clarifying questions, they would communicate with him via the bailiff, and Fell would respond in writing. He gave the group until 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday to reach a verdict, but urged them not to rush and said they would reconvene the following morning if need be.

Inman was facing 20-48 years in prison if convicted on all counts, according to prosecutor Aspacher.

A warrant was issued for Inman’s arrest on Thursday, and a sentencing date will be set when he is apprehended.

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